For the staff of Dallas Summer Musicals, this has been a great season. Between new shows making their Texas debut in Dallas, to old favorites making their final appearance, this season has been nothing short of spectacular. As a first time critic of this esteemed organization, I had no idea what to expect, and I can honestly say I was not at all disappointed. At the close of this season, I tip my hat (though I never really wear one) to the entire staff and wait eagerly for next season's awesomeness to be released on the world.
When I first saw that DSM was ending their season with the musical adaptation of Disney's Shrek, I was a little skeptical. Undoubtedly, you are like me and have seen the movie several times over, quoting (at random intervals) lines from the green hued would-be mean ogre and his all to favorite companion known simply as "Donkey." If you're like me, you loved the clever puns, the crass humour (Shrek is after all British), the innuendo hidden amongst a children's story, and in general, the sheer brilliance of the plot. But...what in the world would they do to make all of that better with singing and dancing? Further, could they make it better, or would this end up being another failed attempt to make something brilliant "better" only to have it completely and totally jump the shark? Needless to say, I went in with mixed emotions and expectations that hugged the low end of the spectrum. Further, as a rule, I try not to read other reviews before going to see a show. Wanting to form my own opinions and with nothing more than the information about the story, I went in with little knowledge about the cast or accolades this Broadway hit had received. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement.
I ran outside right at the beginning of the show and as a result, missed the opening number "Big Bright Beautiful World" but, watching from the lobby it seemed awesome. When I finally made it back to my seat, I was absolutely floored by the intricacy of the costumes, the hilarity of the actors, and in general, the overall show. Every song, and every note was perfectly hilarious or sentimental as the song required, and the cast was nothing short of amazing. Between the brilliant cast, the familiar story line, and the absolutely phenomenal orchestra and scenery, this was an utterly amazing way to spend a Wednesday night. Mixed amongst the storyline we all know so well were references to other musicals I had come to love over the years, as well as a host of references to things we know and love from our own backyard (hint: try not to miss the reference to Cowboys Stadium or the state fair).
The standout performance of the night came, as expected, from Shrek, played by Eric Petersen, but he was in no way the only star. Donkey, played by Alan Mingo, Jr., and Lord Farquaad, played by David F.M. Vaughn were two of the campiest and most hilarious actors I have watched in quite some time, and seeing Princess Fiona's transformation from sassy and hopelessly romantic would-be storybook heroine to the green hued ogre was nothing short of fantastic. Add to it a phenomenal cast that could just as easily have been stars of the show themselves, and I was left with the feeling that this story had in fact been made better. The characters were more vibrant, the storyline more engaging, and my love for all things green and sarcastic increased severalfold. As a family escape, this is the one to see. So, as this season ends, it's this critic's recommendation that you gather the family, hop on the Dart rail (parking is abismal) and head on out to Fair Park. You will not be disappointed, and may just leave believing that magic does exist.
P.S. If you want to see the cast of Shrek up close and personal, check them out at Amy Stevenson's weekly Mama's Party next week as they hop off the main stage and head on down to Lower Greenville for a night. For more on Mama's Party, check this post from a while back.
Through October 17, 2010
Times and Tickets Vary
The Music Hall at Fair Park
909 1st Avenue
Dallas, TX 75210